When discussing the immigration debate, inevitably someone will say, “those people,” during the discussion. It’s interesting that people generally view themselves apart from “those people.” When it comes to the immigration debate in the United States of America, “those people” are typically Mexicans seeking a better life. Consequently, this discussion will focus on U.S./Mexican immigration issues.
The right to basic needs
One can make many arguments for and against the issues surrounding illegal immigration in the country. Nevertheless, let’s take a look at the humanitarian component of this issue. Before ” those people” are Mexican, and before “those people” are male, female or child, “those people” are human beings — just like any of us. The only difference with these human beings, is the circumstance of being born on the wrong side of the man-made border between the United States and Mexico.
Everyone has the right — not the privilege — but the right to the most basic things that should be available to any human being. This includes adequate food and shelter, access to healthcare, and anything else that meets the basic needs to sustain human life.
Consequently, it is absolutely appalling when a person — in the context of an immigration debate — brings up ” those people,” as if they couldn’t possibly be us, or our friends or our family. Sure, the United States has immigration laws in place, but it is more than evident that those laws are not equally applied across the board. For instance, a person from a European nation has a much easier time gaining access to the United States than does a person from a “third world” country — even if that country is very close in proximity to the United States.
In the shoes of “those people”
For now, put aside your opinions about illegal immigration and “those people,” and take a moment imagine yourself born into a country where you were poor — where all of your family worked manual labor, six days a week at least, and maybe seven. And this life into which you were born lacked opportunity — little, if no, chance that you could go to school, scarce food and limited availability of work.
Also imagine that what seems like a world away at times, was about a day’s travel — a place of opportunity: you could find a job and have enough money for you and your family to survive. But there’s one catch, you don’t have enough money to pay for the documentation needed to apply legally as an immigrant to that country. After all, if you had the money, you would need to leave home.
Do you stay where you are in Mexico, working hard, with very little to show for it and few prospects for a solid future? Or do you take the risk, saying, “To hell with the law that’s unjust,” and take a chance on crossing the border? Given this scenario, many of us would do exactly what poor Mexicans do — we’d run for the border, with no concern for laws that deny us the ability to meet the most basic of our needs.
“We have EARNED a better quality of life!”
In a recent discussion about this topic on Facebook, a person commented, “We have EARNED a better quality of life!” How have the people in the United States earned a better quality of life? They had nothing to do with being born in the United States — they were simply “lucky.” Should we really make decisions of life or death solely based on location?
To those who vehemently oppose illegal immigration, ask yourselves whether a law that denies people the ability to sustain their own lives should be adhered to. Also, ask yourself whether it is right to have a sense of entitlement to a better life solely on the basis of an attribute — such as being born on one side of a man-made border — with the understanding that people who were born on the wrong side of that border will be denied that right.
Does it cost citizens jobs?
The number one reason people give for opposing Mexican immigration is based on the claim that it takes jobs from natural born citizens — not true. In fact, a recent investigation conducted by Factcheck.org concluded that these immigrant workers help the economy and increase wages:
Study after study has shown that immigrants grow the economy, expanding demand for goods and services that the foreign-born workers and their families consume, and thereby creating jobs. There is even broad agreement among economists that while immigrants may push down wages for some, the overall effect is to increase average wages for American-born workers.
We are “those people”
By now it should be clear that U.S. citizens are not entitled to a better quality of life on the basis of birthright alone, nor do immigrant workers in the U.S. cost them jobs. A thinking person will quickly conclude that in fact we are “those people” — they are not set apart from us, but are us, and we them — we are all human beings. We all deserve the opportunity to experience life free from poverty. That said, we should allow Mexicans (or anybody else for that matter) who want to come to the USA to fully partake in the American Dream with all its ups and downs.
Let them gorge themselves with fast food and suffer health consequences that their insurance won’t pay to remedy. Let them pay into a Social Security system that will never give them a return, leaving them all but destitute in their senior years. Let them “enjoy” a culture of satisfaction from superficial things and material possessions, such that they drown themselves in debt they’ll never recover from. Let them overdose on reality television and take to heart ideals of beauty and prosperity as presented by the U.S. media.
Let them escape the classism of Mexico, only to suffer both classism and racism in the U.S. Most of all, let them see that the United States is the best place in the world and every other nation should strive to be more like it; “lesser” countries should follow their example and promote a culture of violence and war, police the world, invade sovereign nations at will, perpetuate colonialism, see resources in less powerful nations and snatch them away, make war a business, and put hits out on their own citizens, denying them due process.
Yes, for goodness sakes, let them see that America is great!
Does Immigration Cost Jobs? (Factcheck.org)
A Portrait of Unauthorized Immigrants in the United States (Pew Hispanic Center)